Friends of Boston Manor Park respond

Committee has questions to be answered

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Boston Manor House is one of the oldest Grade I listed buildings in the Borough of Hounslow and the association, Friends of Boston Manor, has devoted considerable time and effort to voluntary fund raising, lobbying, and physical participation to improve the House, Boston Manor Park and amenities provided within them for the benefit of the local community. At their recent meeting on 2nd March FOBM discussed the report submitted to the Executive Meeting of Hounslow Council last Tuesday, 24th February, 2009 regarding the regeneration of Boston Manor. The committee has the following questions it would like answering:

1. Following a letter from FOBM to Hounslow Council asking if assistance was needed in raising funds for the restoration of Boston Many House, we were informed in 2003 by Hounslow Council that, "There is indeed funding from the London Borough of Hounslow to cover these works as part" of its Non-Housing Building Maintenance Budget" but no, or very little, work has been undertaken on the repair and restoration of Boston Manor House since that time. We would like the Council to explain why the money referred to in that letter was not spent on the restoration of the House and whether these funds are still available. If the money promised is not now available, we would like to know how and when it was spent.

2. We have some serious concerns regarding the proposals put forward by the report as follows:

(a) Given the Report was produced for the Council and GSK some time ago (with the latest suggestions apparently made in August, 2008) and that the economic climate has changed considerably over recent months, has the Council ascertained recently whether GSK still require increased car parking facilities; are GSK prepared to offer financial recompense for the loss of and use of publicly owned land and, if so, how much would they be prepared to invest in Boston Manor House and Park? We understand that basic repair work to the building would cost a minimum of 1.3M.

(b) There are concerns that we do not know full details of the proposed car parking facility, such as how many levels are proposed, how many car parking spaces are proposed, how vehicular and pedestrian access will be gained, and how the safety of the general public and park users will be secured?

(c) The general consensus of the meeting was that the siting of the car park under the motorway would, in effect, split the park into two. FOBM has worked hard to ensure the safety of the children who use the park by having shrubbery thinned/removed between the children's playground area, close to the cafe, and the top field where the Spartans Football Club hold their very successful football league and cup matches. This was felt necessary in order open up the space between, so that parents can easily view and maintain contact with their children in these areas, therefore making better use of the whole of the park. Introducing a car park between these two spaces would negate the considerable amount of effort put in by both FOBM and CIP/Continental-Landscapes (previous and current managers of the park).

(d) FOBM have frequently requested full use of Boston Manor House for fund-raising events but have more often than not been refused access to the whole House for health and safety reasons, due to the on-going(?) building works, but Boston Manor House and Park is frequently used as a filming location/facility. FOBM would like clarification on how much income is received from this business, what has been done to ensure that this Grade I listed building is not damaged by the filming and whether the money received can be reinvested in the maintenance and restoration of the House? We would like to see a full-time Development Manager be appointed to oversee the use and development of the building. We would like Hounslow Council to agree to fund such core costs and any emergency works. FOBM would also like to see a Business Plan established to provide funds towards maintenance and repairs once the major works have been completed, such as rental for events or offices in agreed areas of the House.

(e) We would like the Council to clarify why a sports pavilion, previously sited on the London Playing Fields, should be re-sited, or partly re-sited, on public park land. We are aware that sporting facilities and sporting incentives are vital to the health of our community and joint ventures should be considered perhaps for funding applications but we cannot see why the pavilion facility should be within the park and not in the sports ground.

3. FOBM have been instrumental in revitalising Boston Manor Park through supporting Spartans Football Club who use the football pitches in the park every week for up to 4 matches each Sunday, and on Wednesday evenings in the summer for coaching. We have established a low-cost, vibrant tennis club with newly resurfaced and refurbished tennis courts. We have established a thriving cafe to cater for the needs of children, parents and adults who use the sporting facilities and amenities within the park. Ironically, we have lobbied long and hard for the resurfacing of Boston Manor Car Park for many years - without success so far.

Finally, we would be very interested in assisting in any bids for raising further funds to restore the park to its former glory but we feel that we have to be kept informed of, and part of, any proposals by the Council to achieve this aim. We are sorry that Hounslow Council decided not to include us in their discussions and hope that we will be included in any steering group which now may be established.

In short:

  1. Where has the money promised for repairs gone and can we have it back please?
  2. Do GSK still require a car park? How many levels will it be on? How many spaces will they require? Will they fund the whole cost? How will they access it by car and by foot? How will they ensure the safety of the park users? Can it be built in a way in which it will not split the park? What will their financial input be to both the Park and Boston Manor House? What will be the legal implications of setting the precedent of using public park land for private car parking? Have GSK investigated alternative car parking places, such as the under-used car park associated with the 1000 Great West Road building?
  3. Can we have guaranteed core costs for a Development Manager in Boston Manor House and essential emergency works from Hounslow Council? What controls will be introduced on the filming companies who use the House and can the money be re-invested into the House and Park?
  4. FOBM has been proven capable of lobbying and obtaining funding, working both on its own and with other community groups. Our question to Hounslow Council is "can we please be involved in the future of Boston Manor House and Park?"

If you would like to comment on this issue, please email Boston Manor Park's ward councillors Ruth Cadbury, Andrew Dakers and Matt Harmer. Also, Friends of Boston Manor would be pleased to hear of your support (or lack of it!) at info@fobm.org.uk.

March 6, 2009